OBC quota: Vacant seats cannot be carried forward.

September 30, 2008: The Indian Express

New Delhi, September 29 The Supreme Court on Monday said seats remaining vacant after implementing the 27 per cent OBC quota in central educational institutions have to go to General Category candidates in the same academic year and cannot be carried forward to be filled later.
While hearing the Centre’s response to a petition filed by Professor P V Indiresan, the court refused to agree with its stand that the unfilled OBC seats would be accumulated for three years before they are alloted to the General Category.

¶The purpose of our anxiety is to see that seats don’t go vacant,¶ said Justice Arijit Pasayat, who was part of the five-judge bench headed by chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. The application had sought certain clarifications on the court’s ruling in April this year, upholding the Act providing 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in CEIs.

The court’s direction followed Solicitor General G E Vahanvati’s reference to the judgement on the issue written by another member of the Bench, Justice Dalveer Bhandari.

The Solictor General said suppose every year nine per cent seats were increased to give effect to the 27 per cent OBC quota, only the vacant seats accumulated at the end of the third year would be filled by the General Category.

The Bench refused to entertain the Centre’s argument to fill the left-over vacancies in a staggered manner and said ¶this means, till three years, seats would go vacant.¶

¶However, when OBC candidates fail to qualify, they would be offered a preparatory course for one year, following which they would be accommodated in the following year,¶ Vahanvati said, adding, the process would ensure that even though there would be few vacant seats in first year, there would be no vacant seats in the successive years for OBCs.

¶Our judgement has clearly said don’t allow seats to be vacant,¶ the bench asserted, as it agreed to give a detailed hearing on the issue on October 14.

At the outset, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for anti-quota petitioners said that the issue of cut-off marks for OBCs and Genral Category candidates has been settled and institutions have accepted that the difference in marks for students of the two sections will be not more than five to 10 marks. He said, each institution can decide whether they would set the cut-off mark at five or 10 points.

However, maintaining that merit should not be totally sacrificed, Justice Pasayat and Justice C K Thakker said the difference in cut-off marks for the two categories should not be more than five marks. Justice Bhandari had extended the permissible difference between the two categories to 10 marks.
The anti-quota petitioners also told the court that even after the law — the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in admission) — was implemented seats have remained vacant and there was a confusion over it



Only 20 OBC quota seats vacant in IITs: Centre

September 30, 2008: The Hindu

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that only 20 out of 654 seats meant for the Other Backward Classes in the 13 Indian Institutes of Technology remained vacant. Of these, 11 were in the architecture/design course.

Also, only 47 seats meant for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes remained vacant in the six new IITs as no preparatory course could be held.

The Centre was responding to a petition by P.V. Indiresan, former Director, IIT-Madras, for a direction that 432 vacant seats in the SC/ST/OBC categories in the various IITs be filled by general category (GC) candidates.

A Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat, C.K. Thakker, R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari had issued notice to the Centre on his petition.

Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the Centre, said the OBC quota judgment had been implemented properly and the government had accepted the principle that reserved seats should not remain vacant and should go to GC candidates. However, such seats could be filled only at the end of three years as the increase of 27 per cent seats in the OBC quota was staggered over a three-year period.

On filling vacant OBC seats by GC candidates, Mr. Vahanvati said it was left to the institutions concerned and the Jawaharlal Nehru University had filled 54 such seats, and only 29 remained vacant as GC candidates did not qualify. In the IITs, OBC candidates with a cut-off mark of 172 had been admitted and there was no question of reducing cut-off marks for the GC. The reduction of cut-off marks by 5-10 for the OBC was left to the discretion of the institution concerned.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner, questioned the Centre’s contention that the vacant OBC seats would go to the GC only after three years. Proper application would be filed in this regard for necessary relief.

Justice Arijit Pasayat told Mr. Vahanvati: “You [Centre] cannot keep the OBC seat vacant for three years. Not a single seat should go waste and it must go to the GC. Don’t allow the seats to remain vacant. That would be unproductive. Our anxiety is to ensure that OBC seats should not be kept blank.¶

Mr. Vahanvati said: “We had sought particulars from the Delhi University, to which 70 colleges are affiliated, regarding the vacant OBC seats. We will inform the court as and when we get information.¶

Prof. Indiresan said that despite the apex court judgment, it was clear that the IITs, the Delhi University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Human Resource Development Ministry were of the view that the vacant seats in the reserved quota would not revert automatically to be filled by students from the general category and that it would not be possible to further lower the cut-off marks to accommodate more OBC candidates.

The Bench posted the matter to October 14.



Govt to revise creamy layer income criteria

Economic Times

30 Sep, 2008, Sanjay K Singh
NEW DELHI: The UPA government has told the Supreme Court that soon it will come up with a revised income criteria applicable for the ‘creamy layer’ (better off) OBC categories to adjust more of such categories within the purview of reservation.

¶The income criteria, which was last revised in 2004 and is overdue for revision so as to adjust for the inflation

since then, is expected to be revised by the central government in the near future,¶ said government in its affidavit.

Solicitor General G E Vahanvati on Monday appearing for Centre made a point for the staggered policy of reservation into educational institutes for OBCs before a five-judge Constitution bench comprising chief justice K G Balakrishnan, justice Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

¶The vacant seats in the first two years are undoubtedly notional, also for the reason that the central government is in the process of revision of the income criteria in regard to the creamy layer as per the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes,¶ said the affidavit.

Earlier, the centre had been maintaining that the creamy layer concept as evolved in the Indira Sawhney case (Mandal case) was applicable only for employment. Such concept cannot be extended in providing of reservation in educational institutions, it had said.

However, the Supreme Court on April 10, 2008, had rejected centre’s plea. A five-judge constitution bench unanimously had asked the government to exclude the better off sections (creamy layer) of the OBCs from the purview of reservation under provision of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission ) Act 2006.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari in his separate judgment had perused government’s plea which had said that creamy layer exclusion is a bad policy. The government had said that if creamy layer is excluded, there would be shortage of candidates who can afford to pay for higher education.

¶This argument harms rather than helps the government. It cannot be seriously disputed that most of the college-going OBCs belong to the creamy layer for whom reservations are unnecessary; they have the money to attend good schools, tuitions and coaching courses for entrance exams.

Naturally, these advantages result in higher test scores vis-a-vis the non-creamy layer OBCs. The result is that creamy layers OBCs would fill the bulk of the OBC quota, leaving the non-creamy layer no better off than before. If the creamy layer gets most of the benefit, why have reservations in the first place¶? justice Bhandari had asked.

On contrary, justice Bhandari had accepted the plea of anti-quota petitioners who had said that before implementing quota the government must clearly target its beneficiaries. They had said that we should not make law first and thereafter target the beneficiaries. Failure to exclude the creamy layer is but one example of this problem, justice Bhandari had said.

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